Edited Version ( Not Real Story )
edit by DMUK
The planet Ohm was finally ready for acceptance into the Federation. To prepare for the formal festivities, Commander Riker and Counselor Troi were dispatched to the planet as diplomatic liaisons. They were to spend a week helping. Not only to prepare for the ceremonies, but to complete the requisite research about the planet and its culture. Riker was looking forward to this particular assignment, as he knew from the briefing that the pleasures offered on this planet challenged those offered on Risa. There was no higher social calling to the inhabitants of this planet than to honor the rituals of love in all its many forms. Troi was similarly motivated, but she was more interested in finally rekindling her past romance with Will, her 'Imzadi', than in sampling the offerings of Ohm. Little did she realize she would do both.
For the first two days, Riker devoted himself to meeting with the governing officials of Ohm to complete the research part of his assignment. Most of that period he spent in the planetary archives and in conference with the political leaders of the world. For her part, Troi focused on visiting cultural establishments, museums, libraries and other facilities where historical knowledge had been archived. She would also occasionally visit a restaurants and drinking establishments to observe how this culture spent its leisure time.
At the end of the second day, Riker and Troi had completed the research. All appeared to be in order in the petition... there was nothing discovered that would jeopardize the upcoming ceremonies. That night, Deanna visited Will in his room. He was a bit surprised at the late hour, but it was not really too late to have company. She looked different that night, glowing in an inner warmth and beauty that stirred long-suppressed feelings.
"I see that your room is similarly decorated., it seems to be a custom here", Troi remarked, indicating the exquisitely carved statuary adorning the room. The figures were exclusively female, and quite elegant.
"I have found this technique to be somewhat interesting.", he replied, "The detail of the statues is positively astounding. If these sculptures weren't cold and hard as rock, I'd have sworn that they were real people, in spite of their petrified appearance." Will stepped over to a nearby statue of a slender young woman who was several inches shorted than he was. "If I stand here and look down towards her, she seems to stare back at me." Will demonstrated. Indeed, the blank white orbs of her eyes seemed to stare into him. Riker unconsciously reached out and caressed the stone face, as if trying to reassure himself she was indeed stone.
Deanna sensed the longing in his touch and his emotions. Sometimes being an empath was a burden; she giggled, "Perhaps I should leave you two alone for a while?".
Will turned to face Deanna and reddened, obviously embarrassed. "I've always found finely crafted art nudes such as this to be erotic." He looked back at the statue. "This is one of the finest likenesses I have ever seen."
Deanna saw this as her opportunity. She wordlessly stepped onto a low table, shed her local tunic, and assumed the same pose as Will's latest fantasy interest. Remaining quiet, she invited him closer with her eyes.
'Okay, I'll bite.', he thought to himself as he was drawn to Deanna's undraped form. He touched her face in the same way as the statue, but continued to investigate her figure. Outwardly he remained calm, aloof, objective.
She remained motionless and could sense the erotic impact it was having on him. 'If this is all it's going to take to bring us back together, I'll have to thank the governors for their choice of decot when the ceremonies have completed.' Daydreaming, sensing his arousal, she was suddenly startled to find herself being lifted from the makeshift pedestal, but did not break her pose. Riker lowered her from the table to the floor and stared deep into her eyes. "You, Imzadi, are a much finer work of art than anything I've seen on this planet, or any other." At his first passionate kiss, she melted into his arms. As the magical embrace continued and grew stronger Deanna knew she had gotten her wish. Their romance had rekindled with a vengeance under the watchful, vigilant statues who also occupied the bedroom. Stiff and pale, they were a stark counterpoint to the animated bodies cavorting on the sleeping pad. Blank eyes viewed the lovemaking, seemingly without emotion; how could it be otherwise?
On the morning of the third day, a tired but satisfied Will Riker went back to government facility and met with the designated planetary leader, Em-El. He was an older man who had retained a sense of amusement despite his responsibility and the troubles it brought to him daily. Now that the laborious bureaucratic work was out of the way, their conversation was the most informal one to date. His curiosity about one prominent aspect of the society was driving him to near insanity. He had tried to research the subject but could find no clear answer, Riker finally asked, "Em-El, Deanna and I have been marveling at the rather fine works of statuary we have seen just about everywhere here. How has your culture come to focus on feminine beauty in this manner?"
The question seemed to take the old leader's joy from him; he drew a deep breath before answering Riker. "Over a thousand years ago," Em-El began, "a strange illness began sweeping through the population of Ohm. A very pernicious and selective disease, it afflicted only the females of our race. Thousands died very painful, but mercifully quick deaths. Before finding a way to surmount this catastrophe, we discovered that only young women not older than 28 standard years were being infected, with some statistically insignificant, exceptions. With the majority of the male population grief stricken and worried about the continuance of our race, every effort was poured into preserving our future. Those that survived to bear children became our salvation; fortunately the malady did not claim all our young ones. While we could not help those that became afflicted, we consoled ourselves by recording and maintaining their last images to immortalize their memory. We found that if steps were taken quickly enough once the disease was apparent, we could record them and preserve their beauty before the ravages of the sickness took them wholly away. In the end, we triumphed over this challenge and our population flourishes again. From that time on, we have devoted ourselves to honoring our females in the best way we know." Em-El looked around the room, where several of the statues stood. "Their beauty lives on in these figures; every day we remember the cost of that bitter victory." He got up from the table and walked over to a figure of a young lady and caressed her cheek. Riken noticed a resemblance just as Em-El sadly stated, "My daughter, Miri, taken from us in her twentieth year -- lovely, is she not?" Indeed she was a beautiful replica.
The rest of the meeting went uneventfully. The details of the ceremonies, receptions, dinners, and parties were worked out fairly quickly. Wills' curiosity was satisfied; in a way he was sorry he had asked, because Em-El was somber for the rest of the day.
That evening, he and Deanna got together again. "How was your day, finally being able to walk out among the people without having to worry about a boring research assignment?" Riker asked.
"I met several interesting people who shared some of their personal experiences with me. I found it rather --fulfilling." Troi said the last with a sly smile. Riker was surprised by the latter part of her statement. He hadn't heard her talk like that before. He looked, or rather stared, at her. At times like this, he thought he could feel her emotions, too. As he suspected, but didn't quite believe, she had gotten quite personal, perhaps intimate, with the local natives. It seemed their nightly trysts had rekindled her adventuresome spirit as well. They had an early dinner and Troi retired to bed, alone, saying she was tired out. Riker never had a chance to tell her about the nature of the elegant statues.
The next morning Riker was awakened by the sound of Deanna crying out in agony. She was twitching in spasms as she stagger towards him; her skin was flushed and clammy. "Will!", she cried, "we have to find a medico quickly! My whole body feels like it is burning up! Help me, Imzadi; I don't know how long I can bear -- this -- pain -- Unnnhhh!" Gasping for air, she passed out. She would have hit the floor hard if not for Riker's quick reaction. He carried her to his bedpad and laid her down on it. He rushed across the room to a comm panel and called the government facility to dispatch emergency medical personnel immediately.
A few minutes later, a medtech arrived, followed shortly by Em-El. "I'm sorry, Commander Riker. I heard of the emergency call and personally dispatched our best doctor from Government House. Is there anything more I can do for you?" The leader looked troubled, as if he had seen these symptoms too many times before. "I took the liberty of sending a messge to your ship, telling them of the situation"
"No, thank you.", Riker replied, all the while staring at the flushed face of Deanna. They had just gotten to know each other again; now this. He had lost her once already.
"Sir!", the doctor suddenly said in a raised tone, the concern plain in his voice, "Please look at this!"
Em-El approached the opposite bedside and stared at the area the doctor had indicated; his gray eyes grew wide. "Oh no -- not again!", he barely whispered. Riker, however was standing behind him and heard the words. The tone of those words sent a cold chill through his spine. They were like a death sentence.
The medico broke the silence, "This lady is afflicted with the consumptive plague. We must rush her to the central medical facilities immediately -- there may still be time!" Not willing to see her carted off, Will picked up the unconscious Deanna in his arms and quickly carried her to an awaiting vehicle, cursing the fact that Ohm did not have transporter technology, yet. A few months later, once they had been admitted to the Federation, then she could have been beamed there in seconds.
En route to the facility, Riker sent another priority message to the Enterprise. Unfortunately, they ship was on a scientific sweep in a distant quadrant. There was no other Federation vessel closer. Picard stated that they would arrive within 4 hours, traveling at maximum warp. As the comm path was broken Riker heard the stern command, "Engage!"
At the medical facility, Troi was rushed to a what appeared to be an underground quarantine facility. Riker stood by, figeting, for two hours as doctor after doctor examined Deanna. None of the medicines appeared to have any effect and her pain was becoming even worse. Finally, Em-El approached, his face drawn and somber. "I'm afraid that we can do nothing to save her from the disease, Commander. It is already too far advanced..."
"Can you place her in stasis until the Enterprise arrives?", he immediately asked, hoping for some hope.
"That unfortunately is not an option. We don't have the technology to halt her metabolism in such a manner quickly enough. At the rate the disease is spreading, she won't last another four hours. I've taken the liberty of ordering her recording within the hour before her beauty is stolen from her." Em- El seemed resigned, beaten.
"With all due respect, sir, that seems to be more than a little presumptuous. If the Enterprise can be here in a couple of hours, we still have a chance at saving her! Doctor Crusher has developed some startling techniques."
"I thought you might offer that argument, Mr. Riker. Please follow me. There's something you need to see." They walked down the hallway to an adjoining wing. In the ward room they visited, Riker saw four women screaming and writhing in terrible pain. "They are at the same stage of the disease that your Counselor Troi will be in. one hour. Please, follow." They walked into the next room. The sight that greeted Riker there made his stomach turn, despite his combat experience. Em-El said needlessly, "Those in this room were not preserved in time. The extreme discoloration in this woman signifies that she has only minutes to live." The dying woman looked up at her leader and managed a faint, brave smile. He took another few steps, to where there were no more cries of pain. "The women you see on these next two beds have been deceased for no more than five minutes. You can see how disfigured they are. Their molecular structures are decaying at an incredible rate."
They stepped out of the final room. "Do you understand now, Mr. Riker? If we don't do the procedure within the next thirty minutes, Counselor Troi will suffer horribly. I am truly sorry that I had to show you this, but it was the fastest way to drive home my point. There are no other options."
"I understand, Em-El.", Riker replied in a quiet, shaken voice, "I thought that your people had defeated this foul plague long ago."
"No, Commander, we have only been able to deal with the grief and preserve our race, and the memory of those taken from us. There is no cure known for this disease. Perhaps, in time, your Federation may help us find a way; but now there is no time for your Counselor."
Desperate for some hope, but with no other options open to him, Riker finally gave in, "perform the ritual."
Ten minutes later, after re-confirming the Enterprise's arrival time, Will accompanied the still unconscious Deanna to the room where her image would be recorded and become a part of the gruesome statistics of the planet Ohm -- the first offworld human female to succumb.
Deanna was injected with a powerful stimulant to bring her back to consciousness. Although still in great pain, she sensed Will's torment. and tried to be strong for him in her last minutes. Em-El instructed that they be left alone for a short time. Riker could only look at her, overwhelmed by the rapid twist of fate, already mourning his lost love. Breaking the deafening silence, Deanna finally asked, "Will, how do you want to remember me?"
He choked back his sorrow and replied, "that pose you did the other night would do you justice, not only to your youth and beauty, but to the feelings we've shared.. Imzadi..." He could say no more, as his eyes filled with tears.
"Then that's how I will be, Will. Please call Em-El back in here, quickly." She flashed him a brief smile.
Riker didn't understand this at all, but he called for the leader. "I believe she's ready now."
"Commander, you can observe the procedure from that room if you like. It is normally for family members..."
He indicated the next door down the hallway. Riker entered the room, forcing himself to look on at his Imzadi as her life was ending. There were seats, but he remained standing. It seemed the proper way to honor her.
On the other side of the one-way glass, he saw a section of the floor rise, forming a low pedestal. Em- El guided Deanna carefully onto the raised section and spoke a few words to her. Riker could not hear, but he sensed relief in her. She seemed to relax, drawing upon her remaining strength. as she dropped her gown and stood naked. Stepping back a few feet from Deanna, Em-El turned to a low table and picked up an ornately decorated metal vial from the cushion it rested on. Holding the container in front of her, he spoke again. Clearly this was part of an intricate ritual. He poured the contents into his cupped hand, placing the vial back on the stand, and approached her. She composed herself and settled into the pose she knew Will would like to see. It was time.
With a sharp puff, Em-El blew the crystals towards Deanna. A fine, white mist completely enveloped her form. While it settled, Riker saw that much of it had clung to her body. As he watched, the substance appeared to spread in seconds across her skin and hair, sparkling as it caught highlights. At first, he thought that this was an illusion, some trick of the light, but after a few minutes, he couldn't deny what his own eyes were showing him.
Her hair became glossy white, the fine strands seeming to blend together into larger strands, but unmistakably Deanna's style. Her lip color started to fade as her entire body became pale. Riker saw Deanna tilt her head upwards and suddenly stiffen. She did not move again. Her skin was much whiter now, and seemed to solidify. Seconds later , the voice of Em-El on an intercom broke Riker's concentration, "The ceremony is complete, Commander. She has been recorded in beauty for all time."
Riker walked back into the room where Deanna's 'recorded' image stood. Perhaps 'preserved' or 'petrified' was a more operative word. The pedestal lowered back into the floor, conveying the motionless figure downward. Will Riker stepped close to her and looked down onto Deanna's pale, rigid face. The white orbs of her eyes seemed to stare into him. He reached out and caressed her skin. It had become cold, hard and smooth. It looked like stone the way it appeared slightly translucent in the strong lighting. It was stone. Deanna had been turned into a statue. "You knew that this would happen, that's why you asked me how I wanted to remember you," he said to her aloud, not caring that Em-El was standing nearby.
He kissed her lightly on her stony lips and suddenly felt a wave of warmth flow over him, along with Deanna's voice in his mind, 'Imzadi' He had heard it? It wasn't some memory -- or was it? "Is she alive still?", Riker asked.
"We truly don't know.", Em-El replied. "There are legends that some stone women can be heard in their lover's thoughts, but nothing science would consider conclusive." I would like to think my Miri is alive to know how much I love her still. Deanna Troi lives as long as you remember her. This brought some comfort to Will. "Thank you, Em-El. I truly appreciate that." The leader left them alone, then and closed the privacy curtains. Riker hugged the frozen form of his Imzadi to him and no one else saw his tears stain her stone shoulders. They were still together when the medical team from the Enterprise materialized around them; too late.
Aboard the Enterprise , grief rocked the entire crew. Not only had Dr. Crusher been through a crisis of her own while Riker and Deanna were away, now they had to deal with the loss of Counselor Troi. The hard weeks passed and life returned slowly to what could be called 'normal'. As expected, Ohm was accepted into the Federation. The Federation pledged to devote key resources to destroying the disease that claimed Deanna and finding new ways to heal those already infected. The ship was given a new mission, far away from the planet that had taken Riker's one true love from him. Even so, he had a mute reminder of her with him. Always.
Will Riker kept the stone visage of Deanna in his quarters, after speaking with Lwaxana. In time he found that her memory, along with the precisely detailed 'recording', could still arouse him. In those moments, he heard Deanna in his thoughts. Riker was not dreaming, nor going insane. For Deanna truly had not perished as a result of the disease nor from the transformation into her current, seemingly inanimate, form. Even though hard and cold as stone, Troi was alive within her petrified shell; preserved perfectly as an exquisite statue. She longed for Will's warm touches, having discovered that her immobilized state had heightened her senses. Many a night his hands ran over every square inch of her sensuous shape, pushing her (and him) to new heights of ecstasy.
(This is not 'the end.' Stay tuned for Beverly's parallel story and the return of Counselor Troi. Coming soon to a web page near